Mean and Green: Adventures in Vegan Bulking

Word Count: 850 |  Time to Read: 5 minutes  |  Time to Complete: 21 minutes


When you hear the word ‘vegan’, does an image similar to the one above pop into your head?

If it does, there’s no shame. Although the consumption of a plant-based diet has myriad benefits (the prevention of heart disease, the reduction of pollution, increased levels of energy), putting on muscle typically isn’t one of them.

Indeed, I stand as a testament to that fact: despite greatly varying my workout routines over the past four years, I have maintained a near-constant weight of 160 lbs. Now, I take my first step into the craze that has swept the bodybuilding world: bulking.


Before the start of my bulk, I consumed somewhere around 2500 calories per day with a carbohydrate/protein/fat ratio of roughly 50/20/30.

The goal for my clean bulk is to eat about 3500 calories daily with a 40/20/40 split. (On average, I’ll be consuming about 175 grams of protein every day– about 1.1 grams per starting body weight.) I also plan to eat seven servings of vegetables on a daily basis.

A typical day’s diet will include,


  • Two bowls of my patented Loaded Oatmeal
  • Slice of toast with peanut butter
  • Protein shake consisting of pea protein and brown rice protein powders and creatine (apple juice will serve as the mixing agent)


  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Piece of fruit (an apple or banana)
  • Bowl of spinach


  • A variation of beans and rice, seitan, tofu, or tempeh
  • A steamed vegetable (broccoli is my favorite)
  • Bowl of spinach
  • Heaping serving of chick peas, lima beans, cucumbers, and green bell peppers

In between lunch and dinner, I’ll also down a meal replacement shake (Carbo Gain– see below) and snack on almonds for added calories.


What a happy family!

In addition to my power-packed diet, I will be using the following supplements,

1) Pea protein powder (Now Sports)

2) Brown rice protein powder (NutriBiotic)

Together, pea protein and brown rice protein form a complete protein, the elusive combination of amino acids that is found only in soy, quinoa, hemp, and chia within the plant world. As noted above, I will consume these along with creatine and apple juice in my morning protein shake.

3) Micronized creatine monohydrate powder (Optimum Nutrition)

For the first four days of my bulk, I will be ‘creatine loading’ by adding 5 grams to my breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. During the rest of my bulking phase, I will be using creatine only as part of my post-workout protein shake. The jury is still out on whether it’s an effective pre-workout supplement.

4) Carbo Gain mass gainer (Now Sports)

As a busy college student, I won’t often have time to eat the extra meals a successful bulk demands. Thus, I’ll be consuming a Carbo Gain shake every afternoon in between lunch and dinner to add an extra 250 calories to my diet.


Although the goal of many bulking phases is to build muscle, I also want to build strength as well. The two, of course, don’t always go hand-in-hand– the size of one’s muscles isn’t always indicative of one’s strength, never mind one’s health. As I wrote in an earlier blog post,

When we’re asked, “Is s/he healthy?” (the target question), almost immediately our minds ask, “Does s/he look healthy?” (the heuristic question). After all it’s far easier to evaluate one’s health from their appearance, rather than taking their blood pressure and calculating their BMI, which takes a lot more work.

So, with the goal of building both muscle and strength, I’ve decided to adopt the StrongLifts 5×5 Program. The program’s creator, Mehdi Hadim, deems it ‘a simple workout to get stronger.’

I used the program a lot during last winter, albeit without the objective of putting on weight, and experienced serious gains in my strength. As you’ll see below, I’ve slightly tweaked the two workouts in the program to include bodyweight exercises.

A Workout:

  • Back Squat: 5×5
  • Bench Press: 5×5
  • Power Cleans: 5×3
  • Push-Ups: 3 sets until failure
  • Weighted dips: 3×8

B Workout:

  • Front Squat: 5×5
  • Overhead Press: 5×5
  • Deadlift: 1×5
  • Weighted Pull-Ups: 3 sets until failure
  • Barbell Curls: 3×8

In addition to the 5×5 workouts, I will be training abs twice a week– using two of my favorite workouts–, doing yoga once a week, and going on a light run every Sunday. A typical two week schedule will look something like,








3-5 Mile Run

5×5 A

Oblique Freak

5×5 B


5×5 A

Bank on Planks

3-5 Mile Run

5×5 B

Bank on Planks

5×5 A


5×5 B

Oblique Freak

My Starting Numbers

The key to any successful bulking phase is consistent tracking. Below, you’ll find several measurements of my muscles (it’s like you’re seeing me naked!) as well as my current 5×5 PRs (personal records) for the exercises included in the program.

Weight Chest Waist Hips L Quad R Quad L Bicep R Bicep
159 lbs. 37.75” 29.5” 33” 20” 20” 12.25” 12.25”

Back Squat

Front Squat

Bench Press

Power Cleans

Overhead Press






195 lbs.

155 lbs.

145 lbs.

95 lbs.

80 lbs.

275 lbs.



I will periodically post updates of my bulking development– there might even be pictures of my freakishly large muscles!– and strength gains.

Wish me luck!

1 thought on “Mean and Green: Adventures in Vegan Bulking”

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